As party going goes, there are the monthly Full Moon, Half Moon and Black Moon parties on and around Haad Rin beach, as well as the Jungle party and pool party organised on the island. If you are specifically heading down to Koh Phangan for the parties, then I suggest you stay within the vicinity of Haad Rin as the parties are centred around here.
Must admit the weather isn't great as it's the monsoon season, it is windy and also rains occasionally. But for those coming here from a cold country to get away from winter, the weather is perfect. Not too hot or cold, it's cool and just perfect.
We stayed down at Peach Guest house, which is literally a 10-minute walk from the main beach. It's close to all amenities and the noise pollution is almost at a minimum on this end compared to staying on the main stretch. So to get around we hired scooters as it works out to be cheaper than getting a taxi.
There is only one main road that gets you around the island, so even if you make a wrong turn, you'll end up where you were before. As we headed up north, I remember stopping by a Chinese temple along the way. It's not much of a view from here but the temple is worth a visit, especially if you haven't been to a Chinese temple before. Not far from here is Paradise Falls.
Paradise Falls is close to the Phangan Safari and Elephant trekking. There is a sign but it's easy to miss if you're going fast (so we missed it the first time).
Shaded by trees the waterfall has a swim pool at its basin and a few swing ropes. This time around, the water in the basin was clear (since it was the monsoon season) and cool. If you like, there is a path heading further up the waterfall for a better view of the surrounding areas, and if you want to get to the top, you'll have to climb the rocks by the waterfall to get to the top. Do be careful as it's pretty slippery this time of year and a bit dangerous, especially climbing up the rocks with wrong foot wear.
The other waterfall that we went to is the Wangsi Waterfalls. You would have to go through a resort estate and walk to the falls. The is a shallow pool at the basin of the waterfall and if you climb further up, there is about 3 more basins you can swim in. It’s beautiful.
Ao Chalokum is a fairly large beach on the northern tip, where dive schools are more prominent. There is the Ang Thong Marine Park not far from Koh Phangan, which offers wonderful marine life for snorkelers and scuba divers alike.
Haad Salad is equally beautiful and laced with high-end resorts. What I observed is that it's mainly flocked by family holidaymakers if not couples.
Its safe to say that all the other beaches around the island are quiet and peaceful. The ambience from one beach to the other changes. It's not something I can put to words, rather you would have to experience it to understand.
Most people will take the main street to get to the beach (the street that leads you to Cactus Bar). Do be warned as I met unsuspecting tourist being charged to get to the beach! You do not have to pay to get to the beach!! It’s a scam! At the cross section on the main street, take either a left or right turn. There are many lanes that lead to the beach, take that and you won’t have to pay anything.
The beach was packed by 10pm. At least 30,000 people were there that night and from all walks of life. The youngest I've seen at the party was a 5-year-old with his parents! Talk about starting young, eh? Those who live up in Koh Samui took the ferry across to party on Haad Rin, so you can imagine the crowd that night. It was manic but so much fun.
Be prepared to loose your friends as I lost mine after midnight, but I ended up making new friends and carrying on the night till sun up.
The party carries on till dusk the next day at the after party for those who can carry on. Have to admit, think I sort of felt my age here as I could last to get to the after party. The bed was too tempting.
But all in all be prepared to see the ugly side of the beach at sunrise with beached whales (drunk passed out party goers) and trash all over the beach. The bottles and buckets are collected but the straws and confetti are left behind.
A few doors down this street, you'll get local eateries that serve really good Thai dishes for cheap. It's better than all the main restaurants and eateries in the area.
The essentials to know:
- Scooter rental: 150B - 200B for a period of 24 hours. Do check the bikes before you hire them out.
- Buckets: The standard alcohol buckets should be around 150B – 200B. Haggle if its more than that. Drinks being spike is not unheard of so watch yourself and your drink.
- Have travel insurance as it might come in need. There is a clinic close to Haad Rin for those seeking immediate attention. The main hospital is somewhere in Tongsala town.
- Although ‘Magic Mushrooms’ are illegal they are sold around the island. But if you are caught, be prepared to face the music.
Other than that, Koh Phangan is definitely a party island! Do take the time to explore the island as it has more than meets the eye.